Archive for February, 2008

Tour of California from the top of Mt. Hamilton

| February 20, 2008 9:58 pm

by Franz Kelsch

This year’s stage 3 of the Amgen Tour of California included a 103-mile route from Modesto to San Jose, with no less than five King of the Mountains climbs, including the ascent of Mt. Hamilton (HR-above categorization at 4360 feet) and the category 1 Sierra Road. This was the first time the tour went up Mt. Hamilton.

I decided that instead of watching the tour on Sierra road, as I had done on the last two years, I would go up Mt. Hamilton, a hill I have climbed many times from both sides. Before leaving home I made a quick check of the Lick Observatory weather gages on the internet to find a current temperature of 30 degree. I shoved some more clothes in my backpack on top of my digital SLR camera I was going to lug up the hill. I originally planned to start riding at 9 am, with the Nightriders, up Quimby. Only Chuck showed up but he could not ride that day. So I got back in the car and headed over to join the Hills R Us ride that was going to start at 10 am, taking the longer, but easier climb, up Mt. Hamilton road.

It had also been raining all night and the roads were wet. It was therefore no surprise that only two of us showed up for that ride up Mt. Hamilton. We left at 10 am and soon we were making the 20 mile climb to the summit. We kept he pace brisk because we were not sure if they were going to close the road. As I passed by Quimby road, an officer told me that they would stop us at Kincaid. I thought about turning around and biking over to Sierra, but decided to drive on. Around noon I made it to the summit where I was stopped by a sheriff who said we could not go further.


Several cyclists were waiting around to see what would happen when we noticed the sheriff was gone and people were biking through, so we jumped on our bikes and headed toward the back side. I descended about a quarter of a mile and laid my bike on the side of the road on the hill side, along with another 15 bikes that were already there.

It was not long before the sheriff came along and told us that all those bikes had to be moved and we had go down further if we wanted to watch. I headed down the backside for about a mile to find a spot to take some photos. It was a hair pin turn, so I figured that the riders would need to slow down a bit while I snapped the pictures.

It was maybe another hour before the riders arrived. There was a lead pack of around 15 riders.

Lead Pack

The lead rider was Ruberia with the Astana team.

Lead Pack

Also in the group is David Miliar with Slipstream (fourth in the white jersey) and Levi Leipheimer with Astana a bit further back.

Several smaller groups or individual riders then followed.

The climb had clearly done damage to the field. The peleton finally arrived.



The peleton was followed by more individual riders and small groups.

Maybe a total of 15 minutes was all that was needed from the lead rider to the last rider. I jumped on my bike and started to head back up to the summit. It was a fast descent back to the valley floor and I could feel the temperature increase by the minute. By the time I reached the bottom I was way over dressed. Too bad I missed seeing the riders on Sierra Road but I was very glad I made it up Mt. Hamilton.

See all the photos here.

Website Make-Over

| February 18, 2008 8:36 pm

I finsihed a revamp of the entire website for Ultra Distance Cycling. I have moved many of the pages over from my Swim2Bike2Run site, which I will probably let lapse when the domain expires. If you are interested in the technical aspects of the change read my tech blog at

I will be adding more material to this website soon.

Nutrition During a Double Century

| February 11, 2008 9:00 am

by Franz Kelsch

It is very important on what you eat and drink during the long period that you will encounter during an event like a double century, especially if the weather is hot.

It has long been known that you need salt during long periods of exercise. See this article for the research. If you don’t take salt and fluids during extended exercise in hot weather, you will tire earlier and increase your risk for heat stroke, dehydration and cramps.

I have personally found Endurolytes tablets from Hammer Nutrition to be work for me and easy to take, without any noticeable side effects. However it is not sufficient to just take these. You also need to hydrate. It takes time for the body to hydrate so you should not wait until you are very thirsty before you start to drink.

When I was doing the Devil Mountain Double last year the hot weather and limited water stops caused me to try to conserve my water intake. It was a big mistake and I ended up with significant cramping, eventhough I was taken several Endurolytes tables. When I finally reached a rest stop, I had to stay there for a much longer period of time, giving my body time to start to hydrate again.

There were some concerns about over hydrating after the death of some marathon runners who drank too much during the race but the medical experts have now come back around. Read this article on Hyponatremia Should Never Happen to You.

In addition to taking in enough salt and fluids, the next item you need to consider it taking in enough calories. Failure to take in sufficient calories will most likely result in Bonking, or when your body stalls mid-ride.

During the before mentioned Devil Mountain Double, my heart rate monitor said I burned 10,000 calories. A heavier person doing the same ride would have burned even more. Even on a much flatter ride, I burn a significant amount of calories during the ride. If you do not take in enough calories while riding you will bonk. Read these articles on how to prevent bonking during a long ride.

All cyclists have their own solutions for getting in the calories they need. It is can be a combination of liquid supplements added to your water bottle, some form of gel, and solid foods. There are conflicting reports in the scientific community on what is the right approach, especially when it comes to the amount of protein that should be consumed. It is important to develop you own approach during training. Don’t try something new when you are doing your first double century. Use what has worked for you on long distance training rides.

The above is only my opinion and the references cited are for information only, and are not intended to diagnose or prescribe. For your specific diagnosis and treatment, consult your doctor or health care provider.

Mega Monster Enduro 100 Mile Race

| February 9, 2008 7:06 pm

by Franz Kelsch

Yesterday we competed in a 2008 Mega-Monster Enduro 100 mile bike race as part of a 3 man team with Franz K., Jim W. and Doug R.  We called ourselves the Wheezier Geezers, figuring we might be comptetitive if we narrorwed downt he calissifcation enough that we elminate all other competitors.  What other group would there be will all guys over 55 years old?  The course started at Paicines and went south on Highway 25 all the way to the end, then back again. 

We had a total of 101.9 miles and 4,600 feet of climbing.

It was a grueling pace, especially with the climbing we had to do.

Here are our stats for the four legs.

Leg Distance Climbing Avg. Speed
1 32.4 2080 18.3
2 18.5 475 20.6
3 18.5 730 19.5
4 32.4 1320 18.3
Total 101.9 4605 19.0

We averaged 19.0 mph rolling with a total time of 5:34:59 and a rolling time of about 5:23, so we only stopped for 12 minutes total. 

Long Distanace Ride

| February 3, 2008 3:42 pm

by Franz Kelsch

With the varying weather I was wondering if anyone would show up for the Long Distance Training Ride scheduled for Saturday, February 2nd. I really didn’t want to miss doing a long ride on Saturday so decided to drive up to the ride start at Landess and Morril. I was a bit surprised that there were 16 riders who also showed up.

We all headed out at 8 am under cloudy, but dry, conditions. It was a good opportunity to do the new Old Calaveras Billy Goat. David took off in his normal fast fashion while I was struggling to keep up. The a new rider, by the name of Mike, came up by me. Later I found out he was the fellow who was taking pictures at the Pet the Goat spot on the Devil Mountain Double last year.

We then headed up Calaveras and it was David and myself. We were moving fast, up to 27 mph on the flatter sections. Mike caught us after we passed Welch Creek road and then we saw Craig. The four of us plowed on but I was feeling the pain of the fast pace. David them mentioned that he was cutting the ride short and was going to turn around at about 25 miles. I thought, gee I should have let him do ALL the pulling. After David turned back I tried to keep up with Mike and Craig for awhile but after another 5 miles I decided I needed to back off. I was then caught in no man’s land, riding by myself for the rest of the ride.

There was some rain, but nothing real heavy, as I was going over the Altamont Pass. Then it cleared while I went up Patterson Pass. On the way back I was biking into a strong headwind, which explained the fast pace on the way out. I kept thinking it would be nice to draft behind big Mike M. but I was not sure how far back the rest of the riders were and I was worried about getting caught in the rain, so I plugged on. It was all bringing back memories of the Devil Mountain Double, but the weather was much cooler this time.

On the way back over Calavares it seemed twice as long as on the way out. I finally made it back to the ride start at 3:30, not long before many other riders were returning. I should have waited longer for the train to catch me so I could have drafted with the headwind. Oh well, it was good training, I guess. I ended up with 98 miles and 6,000 feet of climbing.